Print 88 comment(s) - last by overzealot.. on Dec 6 at 5:32 AM

AMD has something for everyone with its new tri-core processors, but quite a lot is still marked "tentative"

AMD picked up big headlines the day before Intel's Fall Developer Forum with the announcement of its upcoming tri-core processors. 

AMD's original release did not specify if this tri-core processor, code named Toliman, would be a totally new processor or merely a stripped-down version of the existing Agena core. The answer, it appears, is both.

In an embargoed corporate roadmap forwarded to DailyTech, details of these new triple-core oddities came to light.

The first triple-core processor, Toliman, is essentially a core-disabled version of the Agena quad-core processor. It includes a full Agena package, including the 2MB of shared L3 cache, with one core disabled.

Toliman, which will eventually herald the AMD Phenom 8000-product name, is scheduled to launch in February 2008 with mass availability in March.  AMD representatives, speaking on conditions of anonymity, confirmed the initial  2.4 GHz Phenom 8700 and 2.3 GHz Phenom 8600 tri-core processors will launch with a 95W thermal envelope.

In late 2008, AMD will shift almost all of its 65nm quad-core offerings to 45nm.  AMD will then follow up these initial quad-core offerings with 45nm dual-core and triple-core processors in 2009. 

The first of these 45nm tri-core processors, codenamed Heka, will launch with DDR2 and DDR3 support.  However, AMD guidance also details that Heka will ship with two different varieties: one with a shared L3 cache, another without.  All 45nm quad-core AMD processors incorporate shared L3 cache, with the exception of the Propus family processor.

AMD guidance goes on to state that all mainstream Phenom quad-core processors, both with shared L3 cache (Deneb) and without (Propus), shipped in 2009 will feature DDR3 exclusively.  Heka, on the other hand, will feature a mix of DDR2 and DDR3 support.

Unfortunately the answers for tri-core only raise further questions.  While Heka has a unique codename, it seems to be a combination of cut-down Deneb and Propus quad-core processors. The logical conclusion would be that Heka is merely excess or defective Deneb and Propus processors from the 2008 launch. 

Yet AMD's roadmap goes on to detail one more chip: RegorRegor, which has always been described by AMD as a dual-core version of Deneb, will make its debut with variable shared L3 cache and a mix of DDR2 and DDR3 support. Could it be that Regor is a core-disabled version of Heka, which is already likely a core-disabled version of Deneb/Propus?

One AMD representative declined to comment on these 45nm processors, stating that 2009 processor launches and specifications are still "tentitive."

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Three cores?
By Oobu on 12/4/2007 4:07:05 AM , Rating: -1
Who wants to buy broken four core processor sold as a three core processor? Seriously.

"Hey guys, this ones broke too!"
"Throw it in with those other broken ones!"
"Hey guys, we're getting a lot of broken ones!"
"It's okay! There's a sucker born every minute!"

(I accept I'll be flamed for this.)

RE: Three cores?
By adntaylor on 12/4/2007 4:13:44 AM , Rating: 3
How about if they sell it at the same price as a dual core and it outperforms it? Sounds considerably better for AMD than to just through them away.

Oh, and before any Intel fans get on a high horse about this, Intel has not produced any single core CPUs since 90nm, but they sure have sold a lot of them. Anything in the last year or so that's been called "Celeron" or Core Solo is a dual core die with one core disabled.

RE: Three cores?
By Oobu on 12/4/07, Rating: -1
RE: Three cores?
By adntaylor on 12/4/2007 4:25:23 AM , Rating: 2
So, apparently, you would be a "sucker" for buying better performance at the same price? Great logic!!

And are the people buying Core 2 Solo U2200s using just 5.5W in tiny devices with great battery life suckers too, just because one core that won't be used failed validation?

RE: Three cores?
By Oobu on 12/4/07, Rating: -1
RE: Three cores?
By SlyNine on 12/4/2007 5:03:46 AM , Rating: 3
Seems to me you're the one calling every one interesting in buying 3 perfectly working cores for a good price , "Suckers". What you fail to understand is that these CPU's are not in any way "Broke"

That's like saying because it didn't validate as a 3.2ghz CPU and its being sold as a 2.5 GHz, its broke. And you're an idiot for buying a 2.5 GHz CPU by your logic.

This kind of thing is common place, AMD will sell more and waste less and consumers will benefit, why you cannot see this is just mind boggling.

RE: Three cores?
By Lonyo on 12/4/2007 5:06:02 AM , Rating: 3
I assume you don't buy graphics cards then? Since half of the lower models have been the high end models with parts deactivated/laser cut.

The idea is hardly new, to disable not working areas of a chip, and then sell it at a lower price. Anyone saying they won't buy one had better not buy a hell of a lot of other things too.

RE: Three cores?
By Oobu on 12/5/2007 2:23:31 AM , Rating: 2

RE: Three cores?
By overzealot on 12/6/2007 5:32:41 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, and that's why almost every comment you made for this news is rated down. Complete waste of everyone's time, including yours.
Nobody likes a troll.

RE: Three cores?
By Targon on 12/4/2007 8:49:57 AM , Rating: 2
The problem with what you are saying is that you don't look at things from a price/performance perspective. While those looking to buy the fastest machine out there will care, if an AMD quad-core that sells for $250 compares well to an Intel quad-core that sells for $250, then for all intents and purposes, an AMD based machine is just as good as an Intel based machine in that same price range.

I do NOT buy at the top end of the market because the performance benefits just are not worth the extra price. This is why AMD is able to survive, because you can buy a $600 HP computer with an AMD processor that has comparable performance to a $600 HP computer with an Intel processor.

In the case of tri-core processors, who cares if they are the result of one failed core as long as the working three cores perform properly and well.

RE: Three cores?
By ImSpartacus on 12/4/2007 5:01:30 PM , Rating: 1
I don't know about you, but I think a tri-core is a perfect middle ground for those of us that don't want to get bolted down by a dual core, but still respect future products.

I would buy a tri-core processor anyway. It only helps price even better if they use broken quads.

Not all of us can afford that top of the line stuff that survived the gauntlet.

RE: Three cores?
By TomZ on 12/4/2007 5:13:37 PM , Rating: 2
Why would you say you would buy one when you have no idea the cost? What if the cost is the same as same speed or faster quad-core Intel part?

There are too many unknowns today to support any kind of buying decision. Unless you're a complete fanboy.

RE: Three cores?
By Alexstarfire on 12/4/2007 5:36:31 PM , Rating: 1
You have no logic my friend. You're comparing of the dead pixels to a broken core is seriously flawed. To make it more accurate it'd be like buying a 19" monitor that used to be a 24" monitor, but since many of the outside pixels failed they decided to just not use the outer 5" of the monitor. Sure, you're paying for a bigger monitor, that wouldn't look very stylish, but if the remaining 19" worked just like a 19" monitor was supposed to, then I don't see what's wrong with that. Of course if that really happened on a monitor then they'd have to sell it cheaper than any 19" monitor, but that's beside the point.

RE: Three cores?
By StevoLincolnite on 12/4/2007 5:08:01 AM , Rating: 2
All the "Problomatic" parts have been disabled, besides remember the celeron 300A? Those were just Pentium 2's with the L2 cache disabled because if defective wafers, still didnt stop Intel from selling them in droves, why? Good performance at the time at a rather cheap price... And they were an over clockers wet dream.

All you're graphics cards, For Instance the Geforce 6200, is basically the Geforce 6600, nVidia just disabled the pipelines, either because they were problematic, or wanted to sell more lower end gear, still gamers didn't really notice the difference in quality or stability.

The product hasn't been broken, more like... Features disabled in order for people who can't afford something better something to buy, And sometimes... They are actually good performance for you're dollar.

AMD sometimes with the Athlon 64, Adjusted Clockspeeds and cache, for instance there is actually several different types of the Athlon 64 3200+ all with different clockspeeds and cache, ADM just used a higher-end part, disabled the problematic cache and sold it off as a lower end part, processor still works fine, stability is still 100% and it benefits the consumer as there is more stock thus more competition and thus more sales and cheaper prices for the consumer.

"If something isn't broke why fix it" -Term apply, they are all working, just lower in specification in order for it to be fully operational.

If there were problems with the processors themselves they would be recalled, (Like the Pentium 3 1.13ghz back in the day).

RE: Three cores?
By wetwareinterface on 12/4/2007 9:07:17 AM , Rating: 2
actually the celeron 300a was nowhere near a pentiumII with cache disabled. the pentium II had the l2 cache running at half the cpu frequency because it was external to the die. it was 4 way set assosciative also. the celeron cache was internal to the die, ran at cpu frequency, and was 8 way set assosciative. it was a precursor to the pentium III "coppermine". the coppermine upped the cache ante by going 16 way set assosciative and having 4 times as much cache as the celeron 300a. the 300a also had 2 cache areas, one was always disabled to improve yields. it looked like the 300a was going to be the pentium III but intel decided to go a different route and reuse the pII manufacturing process to extend the life of the process and make more money off it. later they redid the pIII as the coppermine and just basically bumped up the celey specs to the coppermine ones.

RE: Three cores?
By StevoLincolnite on 12/4/2007 9:46:42 AM , Rating: 2
The Precursor to the Coppermine was the Katmai, not the Pentium 2 Destchue
And the early Celerons had no Cache.

RE: Three cores?
By Pneumothorax on 12/4/2007 9:20:32 AM , Rating: 2
All the "Problomatic" parts have been disabled, besides remember the celeron 300A? Those were just Pentium 2's with the L2 cache disabled because if defective wafers, still didnt stop Intel from selling them in droves, why? Good performance at the time at a rather cheap price... And they were an over clockers wet dream.

The 300A's were the "wet dream" of oc'ers. BUT you're mentioning the original Celeron 266/300. Which basically was a PII cartridge without the L2 external half core speed cache. The Celeron 300 A actually came out with an on die full speed L2 cache which preceded the Pentium 3 which finally integrated an on die L2 cache in later revisions.

RE: Three cores?
By StevoLincolnite on 12/4/2007 9:54:53 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I realized that error after I posted, cheers for clearing it up :) Even the origional Celerons with no L2 cache were excellent overclockers though.
And it was the Covington Celerons with no L2 cache which were the Pentium 2 Deschutes derivatives, not the Mendocino.

Still, that wasn't the point of my earlier post.

RE: Three cores?
By Vinnybcfc on 12/4/07, Rating: 0
RE: Three cores?
By StevoLincolnite on 12/4/2007 6:19:23 AM , Rating: 2
Thats not always accurate though, it gets more complicated when you factor in that a More expensive Single core can outperform a really cheap dual core.

RE: Three cores?
By Jacerie on 12/4/07, Rating: 0
RE: Three cores?
By Targon on 12/4/2007 8:56:46 AM , Rating: 2
That is not a correct assessment of how things work when it comes to additional cores. A big factor is how the cores talk to each other, and how well the cache is used between the cores. In the case of cores and multi-threaded applications, the more cores you have will allow for a better distribution of program threads between the cores.

When it comes to memory or other components, there are technical reasons why you see increases that follow the binary increments, but in this case, you just have an extra core that the OS can assign threads to.

The real problem that AMD needs to address is getting clock speeds up, since single-threaded applications will still run on only one core, and a 2.4GHz Phenom quad-core will probably run a single-threaded application slower than a 2.8GHz Athlon 64 X2(depending on what other applications are running at the same time).

RE: Three cores?
By DM0407 on 12/4/2007 9:11:17 AM , Rating: 2
Can we expect similar real world performance from a tri-core?

Unless your running multiple programs at once, the computer would not be able to take advantage of all 4 cores, with the same L3 Cache as a 4 core, and most programs designed to run on two cores (if that), couldn't a chip like this run with little to no noticeable difference?

Especially in current gen games, there most likely would be no difference in a similarly clocked tri/quad core chip. We'll see when they get some reviews done.

All the benefit of the technology, larger cache, lower price. I would buy it! Hell if you guys don't want it, that will only drive the price down more. Cheaper for me!

In the meantime, AMD has now become the largest manufacturer of paper and ink....

RE: Three cores?
By StevoLincolnite on 12/4/2007 8:21:52 AM , Rating: 1
Because I was rated down, I gather any Dual core processor can beat the fastest Single core?

RE: Three cores?
By FITCamaro on 12/4/2007 9:20:35 AM , Rating: 2
In a single threaded task yes. But in a multithreaded task, your single core would have to be at double the clock speed of the dual core assuming the cores between the dual core and the single have the same efficiency.

But a 2GHz dual core is generally going to beat a 2.5GHz single core processor when running an application that will fully utilize both cores as much as possible as it would the single core.

RE: Three cores?
By mindless1 on 12/4/2007 10:11:51 AM , Rating: 2
Which is never the case. Few if any fully utilize both cores and further, few if any buyers replace all their apps with a CPU purchase.

The single core would almost never have to be at double the clock speed as the dual.

For practical purposes we can ignore all this, the primary focal point is the price. Only when the budget is high enough that this budget stretches beyond the reasonable cost-effective ceiling clock speed a single core of any era can run at, does it become uniformly advantageous to use two or more slower cores. Since clock speed is not infinite and a budget can easily stretch beyond a single core clockspeed ceiling, dual cores began to make sense and now that price point is around $85.

RE: Three cores?
By StevoLincolnite on 12/4/2007 10:21:36 AM , Rating: 2
Its a similar thing with SLI though, adding another GPU/Core does not Yield double the performance, as there is always going to be inefficiency's somewhere along the lines.

So you would be incorrect in assuming Twice the clock speed of a single core = a dual core.

RE: Three cores?
By StevoLincolnite on 12/4/2007 10:19:06 AM , Rating: 2
So then, find a benchmark where an Athlon X2 beats out an Athlon FX, of the same generation.
Seems the FX 57 single core manages to beat the Athlon 64 X2 4800+.
And the FX chippys have an un-locked multiplier which allows for more overclocking headroom.

So it seems the dual-cores don't win in every circumstance even when a program is multi-threaded.

RE: Three cores?
By Vinnybcfc on 12/4/2007 2:00:35 PM , Rating: 2
I agree just posters like Oobu cant seem to get into their heads that a triple core is not a pointless processor.

A faster triple core can beat a quad core processor.

It all comes down to what these will be priced at in relation to dual cores and quad cores.

RE: Three cores?
By Dactyl on 12/4/2007 2:38:48 PM , Rating: 1
If fast tri-cores outperform sluggish quad cores, that will only make Oobu hate them even more.

Posters like Oobu aren't concerned about practicalities. They cling to a weird belief that CPUs should be "perfect."

These are the people who hated Core 2 Quad because it wasn't native. Now, they have a new CPU to hate, because it doesn't meet their ideological standards.

There's not much you can do for them. Just smile, nod, downrate them, and move on.

RE: Three cores?
By Oobu on 12/5/2007 2:25:42 AM , Rating: 2
I love posting flamebait here. It gets you guys so worked up.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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